Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Cactus and Rock Walls

Look who arrived early this year.  Yep, it is one of Gerry's Christmas Cacti which decided to spruce up the motor home.  It blooms twice a year and usually at Christmas time.  The other cactus bloomed in early November and will most likely reappear again in May.  

The US Post Office is maligned and all you hear about is how bad of a job they are doing.  We have received three Christmas cards this year with partial and incorrect addressed on them.  One card had Rhode Island as part of the address, another had 101 (missing 2 numbers) S Houghton Rd and no city or state information and the last one was so wrong I can't imagine how it even arrived here.  I applaud the Post Office for even delivering these cards and more amazing, one made it here in 3 days from the East Coast.

The weather pictures coming out of the midwest make me glad that we are out here in Arizona and far removed from the snow and cold.  We suffered through a lot of those kinds of days, weeks, etc when we grew up in Illinois and later when we lived in Maryland.  Once we retired, I made a vow to never spend another winter in cold weather.  

I was also reminded of the cold when I ran across a photo taken of our backyard when we lived in Maryland.  It was an ugly, terraced yard without grass or and shrubbery when we moved in.  Gerry talked me into building a rock wall on both terraces and the first one was a drywall about 3 ft high.  It wasn't than difficult and then she talked me into building a 75 ft long rockwall that tapered from 5 ft to 3 ft over the length of the wall.  She also wanted a curved section in the wall plus a waterfall.  She got her curves, but not the waterfall.  Eventually, she did get a fountain in the intersecting corner of the lower wall.

It took almost 2 years to build the walls since I had to haul all the rock to the yard in a pickup truck; 25 truck loads, more or less.  We started out by taking the rocks from an old house that had burned down a long time ago.  They were nice rocks that had been chisled into blocks more or less.  When that source ran out, I began to dismantle a rock wall on a horse farm.  The wall had been built by slaves long before 1850 and the farmer said I could have all the rocks.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I did take 20 or so loads from the wall and stored them in big piles in the back yard.  The nieghbors thought I was nuts.

Then came the digging out of the dirt to cut into the hillside.  That entailed more than 25 truck loads of dirt to haul outWe dug it by hand and dumped the dirt in a church parking lot, vacant lot down the road, neighbor's yard and a friend's yard.  Most of this was done in the summer time after work and it was hot.  Looking back, if I had it to do over again I would rent a tractor with a front loader on it.   The long wall was mortared with cement and tapered back to keep it from falling over.  It turned out to be a labor of love and we enjoyed the rock walls for many years.

No, I am not interested in building another rock wall.  Once is enough.   



  1. As beautiful as your Christmas cactus is, I love your rock wall even better. What an undertaking! It looks lovely in every season. Those are the kinds of things I miss about leaving our own home.

  2. Well now I know where Barbara gets her love of a rock wall...Gerry. I was going to attempt it but after reading this I have changed my mind!! Like I suspected...way too much work! Great story but you left out the fact that that was how you kept the girls boyfriends away...every time they brought someone over you put them to work. Guys started complaining at the high school and no one would date them for the 2 years you were building it! Smart man.


  3. What BEAUTIFUL pictures! Mom, your cactus is amazing! Mom, you have a hard task ahead of you... convincing my husband that the 1st and 2nd person he was put on this Earth to please, needs to undertake a labor of love to prove it! We need a rock wall so that we can keep all the beauty and memories alive, don't you think? Dad, it would be an added bonus that you can tell Henry it will keep him fit and trim, how about that? I guess you better come to consult as well...well, for 3 days at a time, I guess! You know the saying...